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ESL imposes sanctions on Russian-based teams; says they can play under a “neutral” name



esl imposes sanctions on russian teams

ESL, one of the biggest hosts of esports tournaments, has imposed sanctions on Russian-based teams. This decision comes a few days before the ESL Pro League Season 15 that is scheduled for March 9, 2022.

Instead of completely banning Russian teams, the German esports organizer has put forth certain conditions for Russian-owned teams. The teams can take part under a “neutral” name and not represent their country or sponsors in any way for the upcoming ESL Pro League.

In a statement published on their official website, ESL stated that,

“On the upcoming ESL Pro League, we made the decision that organizations with apparent ties to the Russian government, including individuals or organizations under alleged or confirmed EU sanctions related to the conflict, will not be allowed to be represented (currently we identified two teams – and Gambit).”

So far, ESL has recognized two teams with Russian ties – Virtus Pro and Gambit Esports. Neither of the teams have partnered with ESL and their world rankings aren't enough to qualify for the $823,000 prize.

Regarding the two teams, ESL has stated that,

“The and Gambit players are therefore welcome to compete under a neutral name, without representing their country, organization or their teams’ sponsors on their clothing or otherwise.”

ESL also acknowledged that the players may not agree with their country's decision to invade Ukraine. Commenting on this, the organizer said,

“We recognize that players are not complicit with this situation, and we do not think it is in the spirit of esports to impose sanctions on individual players.”

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, several organizations have boycotted Russia-owned teams.ESL is not the first organizer to restrict esports teams from Russia. Earlier this week, BLAST Premier and Elisa Esports imposed bans on Russian teams and barred them from participating in the upcoming events. Sports organizations like FIFA and IOC have also barred Russian teams from taking part.

Considering the sanctions imposed on the teams, it is difficult to predict if Gambit Esports or Virtus Pro will participate. So far, none of the teams have made any statements regarding this.

You might be interested in: Elisa Esports Bans Russian-Based Teams from Upcoming Events

Nitisha is an esports journalist and gaming enthusiast. When she's not punching the keyboard, you'll find her in Nuketown with the squad.